Learning power politics from Gene Sperling
Learning the art of power politics from one of the most inexhaustible—and exhausting—men in Washington.
Felix Salmon’s foppish war on the banks.
Yesterday I explained why the Fed's new report on family finances from 2007-2010 shouldn't prompt us to stop thinking about income distribution and start thinking about wealth distribution. Today I'm going to focus on something the Fed report has got me thinking about: the Republican-ness of the 2007-2009 recession and the weak recovery that's followed. By this I do not mean that Republican politicians are to blame for the recession. As it happens, they are--the recession began on President George W.
Last week Mitt Romney inadvertently kicked up a debate in the blogosphere over whether health care reform had hurt the recovery. Since he did it by citing my recent book, I felt compelled to explain how he hacked up my argument: My point was that the time and resources spent on health care reform made it harder to get more stimulus, not, as Romney suggested, that the health care bill directly hurt the economy.
Republicans have worked themselves into quite a state of giddiness over comments by Bill Clinton (last night) and Larry Summers (this morning) that seem to favor extending all the Bush tax cuts when they expire on January 1. As Mitch McConnell told reporters today, “Bill Clinton’s remarks, and then Larry Summers remarks—it’s pretty obvious that the economy needs the certainty of the extension of the current tax rates for at least a year.” Uh, no, it’s not. Even if you take literally Clinton’s and Summers’s imprecise musings, it’s hard to see how you get from their statements to McConnell’s.
Like any Woody Allen fan, I’ve been waiting my entire adult life to re-enact the Marshall McLuhan scene from “Annie Hall.” Today, Mitt Romney and Jonathan Chait finally gave me the excuse I needed. Here’s the backstory: On Friday, Romney told a crowd in New Hampshire that he was reading my recent book on Obama and the economy. The book’s take-away, according to Romney, is that Obama deliberately slowed the recovery to focus on health care reform. “In this book, they point out that they said the American people will forget how long the recovery took,” Romney said.
There are two fair conclusions to draw from the recent run of middling economic data, culminating with Friday’s disappointing GDP number. First, contra Mitt Romney, this is not an administration with a failed economic record, at least not as we sit here today. In almost every way—job growth, housing, GDP—Obama has presided over a vast improvement in the economic situation he inherited.
In May 2007, when Barack Obama was but an upstart challenger of Hillary Clinton, he attended a gathering of several dozen hedge fund managers hosted by Goldman Sachs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not a fund-raiser, just a chance for Obama to introduce himself to the investment wizards who had helped turn the hedge fund sector into the most lucrative and alluring corner of the financial universe. And the first question for Obama was as blunt as one would expect from this crowd.